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The Daimler Art Collection started in 1977 with the purchase of a painter by Willi Baumeister, and has been expanded ever since with great concentration and commitment. It currently includes about 1800 works by over 600 artists.

a picture of art developing in the 20th century

The works - mainly painting, but also sculpture and graphic art, though much of the graphic art cannot usually be shown for conservation reasons - show the development of 20th century art, focusing in particular on south-west Germany (The Stuttgart Avant-Garde - From Hölzel to the Bauhaus - 'Concrete Art': the Ulm Hochschule für Gestaltung, the Zurich Concrete Artists, Links with 'De Stijl' - Abstract Tendencies - The 60s Stuttgart School - Figurative-Expressive Tendencies around the Karlsruhe Academy and HAP Grieshaber). Major artistic trends and groupings are identified by representative, high-quality works by the artists involved: the collection makes no claim to cover its historical field in the breadth and depth that museums can offer.

Works by the younger generation: crystallizing out a new focal point

This framework - which was already a broad one - has been expanded in recent years, and works by younger regional, German and international artists have been acquired. These relate to one of the key areas of the collection - the reduced, constructive-concrete direction taken by art in the 20th century - and show it moving forward and crystallizing out more sharply, right up to the present day. And these works by the younger generation also represent major landmarks in 90s painting.

Adolf Hölzel, Oskar Schlemmer, Josef Albers

Two compositions by Adolf Hölzel date back to the first decade of the 20th century, the chronological starting-point of the collection. Hölzel was appointed to the Stuttgart Academy in 1905. Subsequently famous pupils of his include Willi Baumeister, Camille Graeser, Otto Meyer-Amden, Oskar Schlemmer and Johannes Itten; they are represented by work-groups or individual works tracing a line of development. Schlemmer - who is a particularly strong presence in the Daimler Art Collection, with nine works spanning three decades - taught from 1921-28 in the Weimar and the Dessau Bauhaus. There are two works from this period in the selection, and they are complemented by pictures from the period of ostracism. The artistic path during his years in America (1933 to 1975) followed by Josef Albers, whose biography was also shaped to a considerable extent by studying and teaching at the Bauhaus, is traced in three high-calibre works.

Max Bill

The Daimler Art Collection also makes a major feature of Max Bill, who studied at the Dessau Bauhaus under Schlemmer, Kandinsky and Klee, and in 1950 was also the co-founder and first director of the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm. In Paris, Bill joined the "abstraction - création" group, founded in 1931, which also included the artists Arp, Baumeister and Vantongerloo, who appear in the collection. The last three artists named, with Camille Graeser, Verena Loewensberg and Richard Paul Lohse form the core of the "Zurich Concrete" group - Max Bill remained their spokesman and theoretical thinker well into the 60s.

Concrete art develops in Germany

Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart - briefly a student at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau, member of 'De Stijl', co-founder of 'die abstrakten hannover', friend of Bill and later teacher at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm - impinges on all these circles and can be seen as the most important pioneer of concrete art in Germany. Many artists went back to this early 'concrete', constructive-abstract art and developed it further. This can be seen in the collection in works by artists like Adolf Fleischmann, Harmut Böhm, Ulrich Erben, Gottfried Honegger, Günther Frühtrunk, Karl Gerstner, Manfred Mohr and Anton Stankowski, and the same thread runs through to the works of younger artists like Andreas Brandt and Gerold Miller.

Abstract tendencies and the representational counter-movement

There are fine examples of abstract tendencies on the collection by Baumeister, Berner, Brüning, Dahmen, Hoehme, Kuhn, Meistermann, Thieler, Winter, and the gestural developments can be seen in the work of Schoofs and Sonderborg. Alongside this we have the representational counter-movement to the abstract trend, including Schmidt, Radziwill and their predecessors Hubbuch and Schad (Wintersberger and Willikens could also be included in this line of development), and the figurative-expressive Karlsruhe School with their 'father-figure' HAP Grieshaber, with Antes, Krieg and Stöhrer.

'Zero' and the 'New Tendencies'

'Zero' and the 'New Tendencies' as European movements are represented by Castellani, Mavignier, Morellet and Staudt. Loners within this spectrum, who get involved in the various movements and then reject them, are Ruprecht Geiger - who makes quite an impact in the Daimler Art Collection with a total of six works -, Alfonso Hüppi, Otto Ritschl and Fritz Ruoff.

Andy Warhol's "Cars"

Andy Warhol's works from the "Cars" series, produced as the result of a commission from Daimler-Benz in 1986/87, but incomplete because of Warhol's death, make up a facet of the collection in their own right. 80 pictures were planned, intended to record the history of Mercedes using 20 selected Mercedes models, but the artist only managed to produce 35 pictures and 12 drawings.

Painting in the 80s and 90s

Finally the artists Buren, Edzgveradze, Erben, Förg, Heizer, Knoebel, Lachauer, Näher, Scharein and Villinger represent important aspects of German and international painting in the 80s and 90s. The transition from the traditional panel painting to wall-related objects and the inclusion of new media is shown in striking individual works by Brandmeier, Koliusis, Paik, Rademacher, Roehr, Sanguineti, Schuler and Westerwinter.